Projects

We are currently advertising the following CASE studentship for October 2019 start. Information on deadline dates and how to apply can be accessed via the project details.

18 / 03 / 2019

Fighting atherogenic TMAO with food and probiotics (KROON_Q19CASE)

how to apply

This project seeks to identify dietary components that can decrease the levels of trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) which causes atherosclerosis and is strongly associated with several causes of death (e.g. heart failure) and with diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer's and chronic kidney disease. TMAO is formed in the liver from TMA that is produced exclusively by certain bacteria in the human gut from dietary compounds such as choline and carnitine. There is no effective, sustainable treatment for reducing TMAO levels. Our recent research has provided preliminary evidence that polyphenols and dietary fibre can reduce production of TMA/TMAO. Another plausible strategy for reducing TMA production in the gut is to use probiotics to alter the structure and function of the microbiota towards a low TMA production phenotype (e.g. by competitive exclusion of microbes that produce TMA). 

This project seeks to (i) identify signatures of the gut microbiota that distinguish low and high TMAO individuals using NGS/bioinformatics and qPCR methods to characterise the structure and function of the microbiota and relate this with TMAO phenotype, (ii) screen polyphenols, fibres, probiotics and combinations to identify a highly effective treatment for reducing TMA production using an in vitro colon model, and (iii) determine the mode of action of the effective treatment. 

This project will suit a student interested in fundamental research that links gut microbiota and health and in undertaking pre-clinical work that is highly translational. The student will benefit from the expertise of the Kroon (molecular nutrition and metabolism, polyphenols) and Narbad (gut microbiology) groups at the Quadram Institute and of Dr Ashton Harper (microbiology, probiotics) from the CASE partner ADM Protexin.